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Customer Success != Making Customers Happy, It’s a Business Model

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Customer Management
Customer Management

* != not equal to

I have a client whose organization is struggling with the concept of Customer Success.

They are getting wrapped around the axle with the notion that Customer Success is all about making the customer happy and are very concerned that, in doing so, they are not going to be able to meet their business objectives.

As a result, they are trying to separate the concept of making their customers happy from improving their operational execution which is required to attain their goal of increasing product usage.

By separating the concept of customer delight and the obtainment of their own business goals, they are completely missing the strategy of customer success which is about aligning those two to achieve the desired business outcomes for both parties.

Ironically the very act of trying to separate the two ideas in order to achieve their goal is precisely what has prevented them from realizing it.

The very concept of Customer Success is about creating that win-win scenario whereby a company is aligning the interests of both parties to ensure that everyone is accomplishing what they need to accomplish.

Of course, Customer Success cannot be just about making the customer happy.

(Happy customers do eventually leave if they are not realizing the value and business outcomes that they expect by using the product.)

However, the vendor not meeting its own business objectives is of no benefit to anyone either.

If an organization is solely focused on what it’s trying to achieve and not attempting to align with the interests of the customer as well, it will never be able to enjoy the outcomes it aspires to.

Therefore, although an organization is right in determining what they need to meet their goals, it cannot be done in isolation to what the customer needs to meet theirs.

Likewise, an organization cannot think solely about trying to make the customer happy to their detriment.

There needs to be this symbiotic relationship.

In essence, Customer Success is about aligning all of those interests to facilitate the achievement of business outcomes for all parties.

What my particular client has enjoyed over a number of years is a market dominance that is starting to erode with increased competition.

Their prescriptive, product-centric approach, that is, mandating how the product should be used and rolled out, is no longer working and they are confusing the idea of customer delight with customer understanding that is needed to figure out their challenge.

What we are currently working on then is looking at getting a better understanding of their customers – considering their objectives and constraints with respect to rolling out solutions to their end users – to determine how my client should operationalize its business model to ultimately drive that desired usage that it seeks.

Bottom Line

By thinking Customer Success is solely the idea of delighting one’s customers and that customer understanding is not part of the equation in driving operational improvements, a business is essentially removing the single most important ingredient that is required to resolve how to effectively operate to obtain results.

While customer happiness alone is not going to help a company achieve their business goals, understanding the customer is the key factor.

A business that focuses predominantly on achieving one’s own business objectives, without consideration and alignment to those of its customers, will never realize the results it is looking for.

Ultimately, it does need to be a win-win situation and your customers do need to be happy.

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